Bollywood, long criticized for trivializing women, is joining the anti-rape movement despite its usual social apathy.
“Stomach muscle bakwaas band, badlaav shuru” – presently the rubbish closes, change starts. That is the tagline for a campaign to raise social awareness that is being led by one of India’s most popular radio stations and has Bollywood actor John Abraham as its spokesperson. This campaign is focusing on women’s safety in homes, offices, and public places after highlighting the pressing issues of acid attacks on women and sexist language.
Abraham, a prominent film star and former model, joins a steady stream of Bollywood personalities supporting India’s ongoing anti-rape struggle with this radio campaign. Bollywood, the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai, has frequently marginalized and objectified women on screen, even downplaying sexual harassment.
Its stars have typically avoided discussing contentious political and social issues off-screen. However, there has been a noticeable shift as a result of the anti-rape demonstrations that followed the gang rape in Delhi in 2012.
While some celebrities, like Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, were well-known for their social activism, others have spoken out in the half-year since the gang rape in Delhi. Kareena Kapoor Khan, an actress, has supported a women’s safety emergency cellphone app; In protests, others have taken to the streets; Additionally, some people, like Abraham, have expressed their opposition to rape on other media channels.
Based On Personal Experience
The stage is Poorna Jagannathan’s medium, and she stars in the Bollywood blockbuster Delhi Belly. Survivors of sexual violence rarely tell the public about their experiences, not just in India, she told Al Jazeera.
Silence and shame are pretty much universal when it comes to sexual violence. However, silence has a price. And for me, when that young woman got on that bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012, it was too expensive to keep my silence.
By co-producing and starring in the play Nirbhaya, Breaking The Silence, Poorna found her voice against violence. The name given by the Indian media to the victim of the Delhi gang rape, now deceased, was Nirbhaya, which means “fearless.” The play won the Pardon Global Opportunity of Articulation Grant at the Edinburgh Celebration Periphery last year. It premiered in India in March, and later this month, it will travel to Dublin.
It juxtaposes the Delhi gang-rape with the cast’s personal experiences of child sexual abuse, adult rape, molestation, domestic violence, and bride burning in India and abroad, written and directed by Yael Farber, a world-renowned theatre professional.
These performers are not the only ones who share their personal traumas with the general public. Kalki Koechlin caused a stir when she said that she had survived sexual abuse at a conference earlier this year that was put on by the non-profit organization founded by actor Rahul Bose to raise awareness of the problem of child sexual abuse. In addition, the actress has received praise and attention for her role in a satirical video that denigrates victim blaming as the typical social response to sexual violence.
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Ladies, do you believe that men commit rape out of a need for control, aided by decades of patriarchy? In the video, which has been viewed 3.8 million times on YouTube thus far, she states, “You’ve clearly been misled by the notion that women are people too.”
In The Streets, Stars
The participation of these glamorous stars contributes to maintaining the much-needed spotlight on the rape epidemic in India. From 1971 to 2012, the number of rapes in India increased by 902 percent, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
Despite the fact that official statistics for sexual crimes in India are still significantly lower than those in the United States, activists in India blame a significant under-reporting, even more so than in the United States, on systemic obstacles and victim stigma.
In the months following the gang rape in Delhi, the spontaneous anti-rape protests have gradually moved from the streets to drawing rooms, newsrooms, and other locations. Even though the public and the media are still at the forefront of this movement, efforts by movie stars have contributed to maintaining momentum for the past 18 months.
In India, muddying one’s hands in roadside battles is typically regarded as the work of movie stars or celebrities interested in political careers. However, popular young mainstream stars like Ranveer Singh and Sonam Kapoor have been unusually seen at anti-rape rallies since December 2012.
The shocking statistics for female infanticide in India demonstrate that women are not considered an essential component of society. Rather than requesting activity from others, every one of us should have an impact in adjusting mentalities towards young ladies,” Kapoor told Al Jazeera.
Farhan Akhtar, an actor, director, and producer, led a campaign last year called MARD—Men Against Rape and Discrimination—that used a variety of media platforms to challenge conventional notions of masculinity.
Expressing No To Sexism
This does not imply that Bollywood has transformed into an activist industry overnight. Gender bias and male dominance persist in Hindi cinema. However, since the gang rape in Delhi, at least some important industry players have worked hard to distance themselves from sexism.
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For his part, megastar Shah Rukh Khan made a public commitment that his heroine’s name would appear beforee his on the credits of all of his subsequent films.
Leading Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra told the press that she had seen her costumes and the lyrics to a song before agreeing to do a cameo in the thriller Shootout At Wadala, which sparked a lot of debate about songs and dance tracks in Hindi cinema that grossly objectify women.
The movie Kill The Rapist will be released in October of this year. which is the culmination of a journey that producer Siddhartha M Jain began after hearing about the gang rape in Delhi. He stated, “I needed to do something to let out my rage.”
Jain and the film’s director, Sanjay Chhel, asked the audience to vote on whether or not the rapist in their story should be killed: 92% said OK, eight percent said no. If nothing else, this move and the contentious title of the movie are likely to spark heated — and welcome — debates when it comes out in a nation that is simultaneously debating whether or not capital punishment is necessary.